Most employees – around 70%, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — do not report workplace discrimination. If speaking up were easy, there would be far less discrimination. Think about the last time you saw something wrong or unjust happening, whether at work or out in the world. What stopped you from speaking up?
Most of us are scared about what will happen if we say something. Sometimes that is justified. If we tell the guy in the street to stop punching someone, we fear they may turn on us. If we speak up about something at work, we fear we will lose our job.
Thankfully, employment law prohibits employers from retaliating against you for reporting discrimination. So, if your employer does retaliate, you have options.
Retaliation can take different forms
If you report discrimination and your employer fires you on the spot, there is a clear link. Yet, workplace retaliation is often less blatant. Here are a few ways your boss might retaliate:
- Passing you by for promotion: A promotion is coming up, and everyone expects it will go to you. If it goes to someone less suitable, you might consider if retaliation played a role.
- Pushing you out: If your boss knows they cannot fire you directly, they may instead try to “encourage” you to leave by making life unpleasant for you. Everyone at work may have known they were going out for drinks except for you. Or, if your boss acts like you are no longer there during meetings, it may be a conscious attempt to get you to hand in your resignation notice.
If this sounds familiar to you, consider talking with a lawyer to see if you may have a claim of retaliation.